The Online Music Promotion Game
It makes almost no logical sense to promote your music as such anymore.
In short, what you now need is an ongoing, multi-channel content-marketing strategy.
Now, before you go running for the hills because of all the marketing buzzwords crammed into that previous sentence, let's see why we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto...
Back in the Distant Past
There was a time when music was a physical product. So, you or your label would promote your music. It made sense back then because promotion meant awareness. More importantly, music promotion meant sales. Ka-ching!
Yes, billions and billions went into major marketing spends across the world and billions and billions were made in return. Not always, but overall. It worked swimmingly, for a while.
That was then, this is now...
Things Have Changed
Love it or hate it. The music game has changed.
Music has gone from being a physical product that you sell to being just one more type of content.
Yes, music is still being sold, but it's more and more become a legacy thing, not the main driver of the music business it once was. Yes, I'm looking at you, vinyl!
The cold hard fact you probably know very well by this time is that streaming has crept in and taken over as the way most people consume their music. We all know how well that pays at the moment!
So, not only have things changed a bit, the entire paradigm has shifted.
When paradigms shift we need to shift our strategies.
Promote Your Music Without Promoting Your Music
Let's look at the paradigm shift a bit closer and see what it means when you need to promote your music.
OK, so music has become one more type of content. This means that it can, when good, become something that attracts attention, creates awareness and, dare I say it, exposure.
So, in one way, it helps to think of your music more as promotion in itself instead of something that you promote.
OK, yes, you may want to sell some downloads, push up your listens on Spotify and iTunes and get more people to listen to your music, but you don't just "promote" (read: shout from the rooftops) your music to get the results.
In other words...
Don't Be an AA!
We all know AAs. You may have muted an AA. You may have even outright blocked an AA. One thing you don't want, however, is to be an AA.
By now you've probably guessed it...
... we're talking about Annoying Artists.
You know the type.
- "New music out now!"
- "Buy my album!"
- "Hottest single ever!"
- "Stream it now on Spotify!"
- "Watch my music video!"
The list goes on but every one of these statements are followed by an exclamation mark. That's because it's basically a type of screaming. Screaming in a forest where nobody hears you and even if they do, they don't care.
Look, it's not that announcing your work and trying to get people to listen to it is a bad idea, it's just not too effective as a way to promote your music online. So, announce your music but just don't think it's going to make any waves.
So, what's an artist or producer to do then?
Adjust Your Strategy to Align With the New Paradigm
You're in the content game now. Accept this as fact, first and foremost.
It's not just you. Everyone's in the content game.
We live in the age of smart phones and content is what people do on smart phones.
So, without content you're invisible.
Yes, your music is content. It's not enough by itself though. Music competes as a form of content with every other piece of content that gets pushed out every nanosecond by billions of people around the world.
So, just publishing and announcing music isn't enough.
Sure, you need to produce new music. Not just every now and then but often.
You also however need to produce non-music content if you want to attract and keep attention on you and your work.
It boils down to this...
Golden Rule No. 1: Satisfy the Punters, Always
The punters, or listeners/followers if you prefer, want new, good content. So, give them what they want on a regular basis.
It doesn't have to be the highest production quality on each piece of content you publish. It can be you talking to into your phone's camera. It can be a random behind-the-scenes image. It can be a quick Twitter post or share.
The main thing to remember here is that it should be completely focused on them and what they find interesting, educational or entertaining.
Golden Rule No. 2: There's No Such Thing as a Free Lunch
Attention online isn't free, ever. You pay for what you get.
Some attention is cheaper than other attention, sure. You always however pay for it in some way.
This may be by the sweat of your brow, by the time and effort you or your team invest, or by the capital you have available to direct into your marketing spend.
There are ways to get cheap attention, as long as you stay up to date with new developments in the online and social media spaces. For example:
There was a time when Google search was easier. Then everyone caught on to it and now it's a much more competitive landscape. The price for attention went up. The results you could achieve in a day now requires a week to do. Heck, there was a time where Facebook showed your posts to your followers without you having to boost the post. Remember when everything online music was all about MySpace? ;-)
Things change and they change fast. This is why it's a good idea to keep up to date with where the punters are spending time online and use the new platforms and new platform features as they hit the scene.
New companies have to grow so they spend money on that growth. In the same way established companies often spend money to promote new features. Start to use the services offered by these new companies or new features at the right time and you get to benefit from the cheap attention these companies are paying so dearly to get.
This too will pass. So, build your own thing...